Greg Byrne leaving Arizona to become AD at Alabama

Greg Byrne spent six and a half years as Arizona's athletic director.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Greg Byrne is leaving Arizona after seven years as its athletic director to take a similar position at Alabama.

Bill Battle announced his retirement as Alabama’s athletic director Sunday night. Byrne, 45, will take over on March 1.

Arizona president Ann Weaver Hart named senior associate director Erika Hanson Barnes as interim director and vice president of intercollegiate athletics and initiated a national search for Byrne’s replacement.

“We knew Bill was considering a change, and we wanted to hire someone who can assume that mantle of leadership and continue the tradition of success that Bill and so many others before him have established,” Alabama President Stuart R. Bell said. He added that Byrne is “uniquely qualified for this role.”

The 45-year-old Byrne was Mississippi State’s athletic director from 2008-10 before leaving for Arizona. He hired Wildcats football coach Rich Rodriguez and the Bulldogs’ Dan Mullen.

“We look forward to returning to the SEC and being a part of Alabama’s outstanding tradition,” Byrne said.

The Wildcats completed construction of the $72 million Lowell-Stevens Football Facility on his watch and finished the first phase of an $80 million renovation of the McKale Center, home to Arizona’s basketball program and athletic department.

“Greg Byrne has been a strong leader and positive force for Arizona Athletics bringing energy and vision to his role,” Hart said. Greg lifted University of Arizona Athletics to a higher level, and I wish him well at the University of Alabama.”

Byrne expressed his appreciation for the support of Arizona’s athletic community.

“The last nearly seven years has been a wonderful experience for me and my entire family,” he said. “Because of the unbelievable support of all those who make up the Arizona Family, Tucson and the University of Arizona will always hold a special place in our hearts.”

Byrne joins an athletic program that has won 10 national championships in five sports since 2008, including four titles in football.

Byrne is the son of Bill Byrne, who retired as Texas A&M’s athletic director in 2012. The 75-year-old Battle will become special assistant to the president.

Barnes is a 2001 graduate of Arizona with a degree in communications and a Masters of Business Administration. She was a member of Arizona’s 2001 national championship softball team and has been on the athletic department staff since 2005.